While we may not automatically associate dentistry with healthy sleep, sleep apnea dentists have effective treatments for this debilitating disorder. Diagnosing sleep apnea requires a physician, though a qualified dentist can provide effective treatment and strategies that will make a positive impact on sleep apnea.
Identification of Sleep Apnea
- According to the article A Dentist’s Role in Sleep Apnea, identifiable characteristics of sleep apnea include morning headaches, excessive daytime sleepiness, irritability and impaired mental or emotional functioning, excessive snoring, choking or gasping during sleep, insomnia, and waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat.
- To ascertain if the above mentioned symptoms could be sleep apnea, there is a Google application Sleep Bot that will monitor your sounds and movements as you sleep. While a smart phone application can help identify your sleep behavior, it is still important to discuss your sleep pattern data with a physician or your dentist.
Coping With Sleep Apnea
- recommends simple common sense measures to address sleep apnea, including weight loss, improving healthy sleep, regular moderate exercise, and limited or no alcohol use.
- While sleeping pills and tranquilizers can break patterns of insomnia, they also aggravate sleep apnea and ought to be used with discretion.
- Smoking exacerbates sleep apnea, so if you suffer from this dangerous sleep disorder, consider quitting. Giving up smoking will have a positive impact on sleep apnea management.
- During the daytime hours, notice if you are tightening your jaw and clenching your teeth together. When you notice this strain in your mouth and jaw, take a moment to relax your neck and shoulder and drop your jaw. You can even gently stretch your jaw, in a yawning position, for further relief. When you lay down to sleep, make sure you are not clenching your teeth and once again drop and relax your jaw while breathing. Relaxing your jaw, in this manner, will also keep your upper and lower teeth separate, therefore you are less likely to grind your teeth.
- Side sleeping is the best position to avoid loss of breath during the night. If you can only fall asleep on your back, consider a wedge type pillow to elevate your head slightly.
- If sleep apnea is serious, your dentist may be able to fashion a dental device for sleep apnea. “A dental appliance for sleep apnea, which looks similar to an athletic mouth guard, repositions the jaw and tongue to improve airflow.”
For further questions about sleep apnea, feel free to contact us.